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Mozambique opposition call off peace agreement with government

Mozambique's main opposition group is reported to have attacked a police station in an escalation of tensions in the country. This comes a day after Renamo announced it was withdrawing from a two-decade old peace deal.

Members of Renamo - Mozambique's rebel group during the 1975-1992 civil war turned political opposition party - reportedly attacked a police station on Tuesday. The attack, as reported by Radio Maputo, occurred in the central town of Maringue, which lies roughly 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) north of the capital Maputo.

Margingue's administrator Antonio Absalao also confirmed the assault with news agency AFP.

"Gunmen attacked the police station but fortunately there were no casualties because the policemen fled the post," Absalao said.

There was no immediate comment available from the opposition group Renamo.

The alleged attack occurred several hours after Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama (pictured above) announced his group's withdrawal from the peace agreement with the government, which they reached 21 years ago.

The decision to exit the peace accord followed an attack on Renamo's base near the Gorongosa mountains on Monday. Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga blamed government troops for the assault. No one was injured in the attack, Mazanga said, adding that Dhlakama and his supporters had fled to safety.

The Monday attack came in retaliation for a Renamo assault on government troops, according to Defense Ministry spokesperson Custudio Chume, who spoke to state broadcaster Radio Mozambique.

Mozambique descended into civil war soon after its independence from Portugal in 1975. Some one million people died in the fighting between Renamo and the communist group Frelimo, which is now the ruling party.

A raw materials boom sparked by the discovery of oil and gas reserves has led to an average economic growth of seven percent in the southern African country in recent years. Despite the improved economy, the country remains one of the most impoverished on the continent.

kms/pfd (AFP, dpa, epd)